Published on March 11, 2014
1 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT FROG VLE APPLICATION Valerie Sinti December 2013 1.0 1BestariNet Program 1BestariNet is a project initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE). It is a project to equip all public schools in Malaysia with high-speed internet access and a virtual-learning environment. Under this project, 10,000 primary and secondary public schools in Malaysia will be equipped with 4G1 networks and VLE2 . 1BestariNet will be used as a central platform for consolidating all data. This will entail identifying the key datasets (at the student, school, and system levels) that the system leaders require in making critical decisions, assessing the present database’s ability to meet these requirements and augmenting them as need be, and training database 1 Fourth-generation wireless is a type of technology that can be used with cellular phones, wireless computers, and other mobile devices. This technology gives users faster access to the internet than most previous third-generation (3G) networks can offer, and it also offers new user options such as the ability to access high-definition (HD) video, high-quality voice, and high-data-rate wireless channels via mobile devices. 2 Virtual-learning Environment (VLE) is an e-learning education system based on the web that models conventional in-person education by providing equivalent virtual access to classes, class content, tests, homework, grades, assessments, and other external resources such as academic or museum website links. It is also a social space where students and teacher can interact through threaded discussions or chat. It typically uses Web 2.0 tools for 2-way interaction, and includes a content management system.
2 staff to ensure that they are capable of providing the required data entry and data synthesis services. The goal is to ensure easy and timely access to data to inform decision-making at all levels. The 1BestariNet project has been awarded to YTL Communications Sdn. Bhd. and FrogAsia Sdn. Bhd. with a total value of RM1.32bil. The contract is for a five-year period, with an option to extend for another five plus five years, totaling 15 years, and this would include installation, maintenance and provision of a VLE. YTL and FrogAsia will provide the latest in learning methodologies in the form of connectivity to the Internet and use of the Frog Channels. YTL Corporation Berhad (YTL) is one of the largest companies listed on the Bursa Malaysia. The company was listed in 1985 and has a secondary listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 1996. YTL was the first Asian non-Japanese company to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The YTL Group’s core businesses are ownership and management of regulated utilities and other infrastructural assets, serving 12 million customers in three continents. YTL selected Frog to be the learning platform provider for the whole of Malaysia as part of the 1Bestarinet Project. Set-up by the Malaysian Government, the 1Bestarinet Project was developed to provide internet access to all the state schools in Malaysia. Since then YTL have acquired a majority share in Frog3 . Frogasia Sdn. Bhd. (FrogAsia) is a joint venture between FrogTrade Ltd. and Malaysia’s YTL Group, and is the licensed reseller for the award- winning Frog learning platform. FrogAsia leverages on track record and expertise in integrating technology into schools, while working hand-in-hand with local educators and education organizations, to deliver a world-class learning system that is relevant to the Asian 3 Beyond just implementing technology, FrogAsia provides solutions focused on harnessing the Internet to transform education in a meaningful way. Its virtual learning environment (VLE), Frog, developed by sister company Frogtrade in the UK, is simple, fun, and engaging – which is why schools all around the world have made Frog their platform of choice. Frogtrade was named ICT Company of the Year at the 2013 BETT Awards in the UK. Source: http://www.frogtrade.com/
3 region. FrogAsia will deliver and support latest technology in 10,000 state schools in both Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, serving a total of 6 million users from YTL Communications’ purpose built data centre in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. YES, a brand under YTL Communications, offers the fastest 4G mobile internet with voice. Winner of ‘Broadband InfoVision Awards 2011’ under ‘Best New Service’ category, Frost & Sullivan’s ‘Most Innovative Service Provider of the Year 2012’ and ‘Most Promising Telecom Service Provider of the Year 2013,’ Yes is a global frontrunner in mobile 4G and is the first mobile operator in Malaysia to bring the worlds of mobile internet and voice together in one plan. Yes offers among the lowest mobile rates in the market and currently covers over 85% of the population in Peninsular Malaysia with on- going network expansions in East Malaysia. With its robust 4G network as a backbone and a fully-converged mobile service, Yes is one of the most advanced wireless networks in the world. As a Mobile WiMAX4 provider, Yes uses Yes ID, a username authentication method that does not require the use of SIM cards. Yes is a product of YTL in partnership with Cisco, Clearwire, GCT and Samsung. Yes sources their dongles and modems from Infomark Korea, the same company which Clearwire sources their devices from. Through the 1BestariNet project, FrogAsia brings the future of education to every student, teacher and parent in Malaysia. Combining high-speed 4G internet access, a world class learning platform, and access to ‘best-in-class’ resources and technology, Malaysia is the first country in the world to bring its entire education community together on a single converged network designed specifically to meet the needs of teaching and learning. The 1BestariNet project connects all schools across the nation on a single platform through the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that's powered by Yes 4G5 . 4 WiMAX is Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. 5 Yes is the world's first nationwide converged 4G service that offers data, calls and SMS in one simple plan.
4 2.0 Frog VLE Application FROG is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)6 . The UK-based Frog was adopted by MOE as a web-oriented, tablet-based e-learning system that replicates real- world learning by integrating virtual equivalents of conventional concepts of education. It is a place where students can log into a secure school site to follow up their learning outside of school. Students may be able to complete tasks set by teachers, blog and develop their own web pages about themselves and their learning and it is a place to share learning ideas with their peers. For example, teachers can assign lessons, tests, and marks virtually, while students can submit homework and view their marks through the VLE. Parents can view school news and important documents while school administrators can organize their school calendars and disseminate school notices via the Internet. Frog’s easy-to-use system allows students and teachers to search for almost anything on the internet (videos, images, educational resources) and build it into a sleek- looking Site, without needing any technical expertise. The Frog VLE is also a gateway to a plethora of educational resources and cool apps from around the web, all accessible within a safe, filtered environment. 1. Teachers –Frog is simple, easy-to-use, and designed to take teaching to a whole new level. Assign and keep track of students’ work and marks, create teaching resources, and connect with other educators. To plan time better with the calendar which allows viewing, creating, joining or adding events. 2. Students – Learning is fun and personalized with Frog. Explore exciting videos, games, and posts on The Pond, personalize own home page, upload and save files on the cloud, complete assignments anytime, anywhere, and share ideas with classmates and teachers. 6 An application development platform, with a learning platform built into it – (Scripting functionality).
5 3. Parents – Keep track of school events, PTA reports and school notices with the calendar and school notice board, find all the contact details in need on the Contact School page, and download permission forms and other important documents at own convenience. The Internet is acknowledged as a source of vast, diverse, and unique resources for both students and teachers of all disciplines. Combined with the specifically customized applications of the Frog Channels, they provide a valuable tool for teaching and learning. The Services are being provided to Frog Users7 in schools across the nation to promote educational excellence by facilitating access to the infinite resources of the Internet and coupled with the benefits of resource sharing, innovation, and communication through the Frog Channels. The Internet is an electronic information highway connecting thousands of computers all over the world and millions of users. The Frog Channels8 provides innovative, Internet-based learning solutions designed to help teachers create more engaging lessons from resources available on the internet as well as foster a culture of flexible, self-directed learning among students that will enhance their skills and knowledge. Students, teachers and parents will, among others things, have access to: Electronic mail (e-mail) communication. Forums for sharing ideas. Information and news. Public domain software and graphics of all types for educational purposes. Graphical access to the World Wide Web, the newest and most exciting access tool on the Internet. 7 Means all authorized users of the Frog Channels in the permitted MOE schools who have been issued the 1Bestarinet Yes IDs and password under the 1Bestarinet program who is permitted to access to the Services on and through the Frog Channels. 8 Means any and all interfaces between a Frog User of FrogAsia and YTL and/or the Services and FrogAsia and YTL from which the Services can be made available.
6 Only students and staff at SK Berungis have access to the school Frog VLE. Students have a secret password which they must not share with anyone else. As part of all the ICT lessons they discuss e-safety and as they are using Frog VLE they discuss many of the potential risks and pitfalls of using the internet but in a safe and controlled environment. The user interface provides easy access to the many features and applications of the school Frog VLE. The Interface provides different user options whether being viewed by a teacher, student, administrator or parent. This guide is based upon a teacher login and so may include tools and features not available to other users. Figure 2-1 Frog starts with a unique 1BestariNet Yes ID, which gives an access into the Frog VLE. Figure 2-2 My Dashboard is the first page is presented with upon logging into the VLE. It may be customized to show the school calendar, RSS feeds, or notifications. User may also add personal content such as photographs, videos or links to favorite websites.
7 Figure 2-3 The School Dashboard displays notices and information vital to the smooth running of the school. Here user can view notice boards, images, videos and download important files. It also contains an MOE RSS feed to keep users informed of any education news or information that is of interest to schools and teachers. Figure 2-4 This section will walk users through the main work areas of the VLE. Links to these areas can be found in the Quick Launch menu in the Frog Bar.
8 3.0 IT Development Life Cycle The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), also referred to as the Application Development Life-Cycle, is a term used in systems engineering, information systems and software engineering to describe a process for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system. 1BestariNet is the first program on this scale worldwide. The MOE introduced the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 as part of its effort to help students in an increasingly competitive global economy. As part of the blueprint, 1BestariNet will equip all primary and secondary government schools across Malaysia with high-speed 4G Internet connectivity (Yes 4G networks) and a proven cloud-based virtual learning platform, the Frog VLE. YTL Communications that are in charge of creating Frog VLE application often have the job title of System Analyst. The major steps in creating the application include the following and start at Planning step. During the Design phase the System Analyst will document the inputs, processing and outputs of each program within the application. During the Implementation phase programmers would be assigned to write the specific programs using a programming language decided by the System Analyst. Once the
9 system of programs is tested the Frog VLE is installed for schools to use. As time goes by, things change and a specific part or program might need repair. During the Maintenance phase, it goes through a mini planning, analysis, design and implementation. The programs that need modification are identified and programmers change or repair those programs. After several years of use, the system usually becomes obsolete. At this point a major revision of the application is done. Thus the cycle repeats itself. YTL Communications which deploy a nationwide 4G network service signed a Wholesale Ethernet Service and Master Tenancy for Infrastructure Sharing Agreement with Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM)9 , thus bringing the promise of a truly converged seamless broadband connectivity one step closer to reality. The 15-year agreement inked by two of Malaysia’s most recognizable brands will enable YTL to leverage on TM’s nationwide Wholesale Ethernet service, while riding on the High Speed Broadband (“HSBB”) infrastructure, and TM’s other telecommunications facilities, to deliver 4G services nationwide. YTL Communications has obtained approval from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to operate a 2.3 GHz WiMAX wireless broadband network in Malaysia and is using this privilege to provide, in the near future, state-of-the-art mobile connectivity with some of the biggest global technology pioneers such as Cisco, Clearwire, GCT Semiconductor and Samsung. With TM’s Wholesale Ethernet infrastructure, YTL can gain from the scalability of bandwidth through TM’s integrated solutions and can also leverage on the sustained and reliable bandwidth of TM’s Wholesale Ethernet to access large volumes of data and utilize bandwidth intensive applications. Through these agreements as well, YTL will tap on to more than 200 TM telecommunications towers across the country to facilitate the roll-out and installation of its 4G network radios. 9 Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), Malaysia’s leading integrated information and communications group, offers a comprehensive range of communication services and solutions in broadband, data and fixed-line.
10 4.0 Frog VLE Architecture The 1Bestarinet solution is a connectivity-cum-cloud10 based software services solution which covers the following key components: Last Mile Connectivity Back Haul Cloud Services for Virtual Learning Environment Cloud Services for Managed Security Hosting Services Internet Connectivity 10 A variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.
11 The Virtualization Infrastructure provides the Virtualized Environment used by the VLE Architecture and parts of the YTL Infrastructure. The Virtualization Infrastructure uses Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV)11 as the hypervisor. The Frog VLE solution has the following components: The Community site provides an interactive portal for teachers to communicate and share with each other, as well as providing facilities for the MOE to create notices that are displayed within each schools VLE. The Content store provides centralized resources which can be accessed through the VLE. The SCORM services provide access to the Icodeon SCORM Engine for running SCORM based content. The community site, content store and SCORM are each a single clustered Frog Platform and operate independently of the other VLE instances. This will facilitate the sharing of resources developed within the VLE as well as any additional content agreed and provided independently. 11 Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, and open source communities, Red Hat helps create relevant, innovative technologies that liberate resources for growth and prepare customers for the future of IT.
12 1. When school computers boot into windows or when SEP’s communication interval is effective, The Symantec anti-virus client installed on the computers in the school request for an updated anti-virus signature from the network. 2. The school computers connect to the wireless endpoint device (Zoom) placed in the school by YTL. 3. The Zoom connects to 4G broadband via the 4G base station (macro network) to the Symantec anti-virus servers placed in YTL data center. 4. The servers (in YTL data center) provide an updated signature and the school computers get the update via the same path.
13 5. (NOTE: The servers in turn should have received the updated anti-virus signature from Symantec (internet). This happens via scheduled communication in between the servers and Symantec).
14 The content filter is one of the key components of the solution. It is used to ensure that inappropriate content is being blocked from the students in the schools. YTL will be deploying 2 units of the content filter. They will be configured in a fault tolerant configuration to ensure that there is no disruption during an equipment failure: The Content Filter appliance enables service providers to better manage excessive increases in network traffic and subscriber growth by using a caching technology. By utilizing highly effective caching technology, CacheFlow is able to dramatically accelerate the delivery of rich Web 2.0 content including large files and video. CacheFlow appliances also save bandwidth on expensive international links and backhaul traffic, which greatly reduces infrastructure costs by controlling bandwidth consumption and improving customer satisfaction. Highly skilled engineers operate in secure state-of-art 24/7/365 Network Operations Centers (NOC), equipped with the best monitoring and automation tools and processes designed as per ITIL framework. The service offerings can be tailored to accommodate: Flexibility in the components of the infrastructure being monitored and managed. Availability of competency levels from L0 to L4. Shift coverage to accommodate “follow-the-sun” model. Setup and economies of scale of a NOC: Shared NOC or Dedicated NOC.
15 Data Center Sentul Data center is located in a Kuala Lumpur suburb (Sentul), offering excellent opportunities for both cost effective hosting and high speed transaction connectivity solutions into and out of Kuala Lumpur. Sentul has tier 4 data center capabilities to support critical high performance and high volume business applications with resilience and availability expected of world class IT services. Sentul also offers variety of other data center specifications for non-critical hosting needs Data Center Capabilities Sentul’s 24/7/365 operation center has full visibility of all our data centers using enterprise-level systems monitoring, environmental systems control and access to live visual feeds. Experienced round-the-clock operators manage an extensive range of technologies from virtual UNIX / Windows servers to storage area networks to tape libraries; global wide area networks to local point of presence. The Data Center is regularly tested to ensure the inbuilt resilience is working to the specification. This gives the customer the necessary assurances that the facility is operating and being maintained to the required Data Centre standard. 5.0 IT Performance Evaluation The key thing to remember is that like all things IT, the VLE market place is constantly changing and adapting. Every school is different, with particular needs and outcomes they want from their VLE, and there is no magic bullet or perfect platform that will work for everyone. The key thing when undertaking a review of the school VLE provision or planning its implementation is to go through, in detail, a process like the one outlined above of identifying what the school primary and secondary objectives are from the project, and then exploring the full breadth of the marketplace, read all the literature,
16 speak to the reps, but also contact other schools using the platforms and speak to the teachers as well as the technical staff. For me the key properties I’ve seen in successful Frog VLE deployments is a clear and well-articulated reason for why the school wants a VLE, and a system which is easy enough for the average member of staff to use without having to undergo significant training. PROS CONS 1. All-in-one package. 2. Seemingly forward thinking and proactive company. 3. Good design skills. 4. Very easy to use. 5. AD integration. 6. Social networking element. 7. Flexible parental reporting. 8. Hosted on site. 9. Relatively low on-going costs. 10. Good technical support – Malaysia phone line 7:00am-10:00pm five days a week. 11. Offers off-site access to software via Secure Gateway. 12. Flexible ‘FrogVLE’ concept allows for drag and drop creation of complex pages. 1. Limited online testing/quiz functions. 2. No integration with exchange data. 3. No display for Maths/Science notation – e.g. Latex etc. 4. Weak forum tools. 5. Large initial outlay although financing is available to spread this cost. There are several pluses and minuses to Frog as a solution, and in some cases some of the features are likely to be seen as pluses to some and minuses to others. A single product – Frog is the only one stop shop solution we considered, this has potential benefits in terms of integration between the VLE elements and the Parental Reporting/Engagement elements. It also has the advantage that schools should be able to roll out a complete solution in one go, although this may be seen as a disadvantage to some as you loose the modular element. For me the bottom line of what I like about Frog is the simplicity mixed with flexibility. It is simple to create a page, throw up some resources, add in some media and away you go. However underneath this is a very powerful system of Frog VLE which
17 enables the user to create various different types of resources and ideas. I personally think that Frog is the only product I have seen that would enable almost any teacher to quickly get up and running and be able to create resources without having to undertake significant INSET training. The Parental reporting side of Frog I think is a real strength, as it purports to offer us significantly more flexibility. I felt that the setup of the parental portal element of Frog had the potential to achieve more than simple reporting but more along the lines of increased dialogue between teachers and parents. There are several other features of Frog that I felt would be useful and engaging for students. One of the biggest hurdles to getting engagement with students will always be giving them a reason to visit the Frog VLE. If the communication is all one way (i.e. we push stuff out to the students) then they are likely to lose traction as soon as there is a period where nothing is added. By also making it a controlled ‘social’ environment we stand a chance of students using it as a social medium as well as a learning medium which has many positive benefits. Also the ability to embed a live website quickly and easily into another page has interesting potential for those departments (like my own) who already subscribe to other web-based resources as we could in theory just embed the page directly into Frog so pupil need never really leave the Frog environment. The bespoke element of Frog I think is huge benefit of their approach. I have been very impressed by the quality of the graphical design work which Frog do and feel confident that we would end up with a product that not only offers us the facilities we need but does using a design that encourages people to use the site. There are however some shortfalls with Frog. The current implementation doesn’t offer us the level of ‘multiple-choice testing etc’ that we would necessarily want but we have assurances that they know this is a short coming and that it is being worked on. Also the current forums are quite limited no allowing for rich-text entry, or much in terms of management. For me one of the most impressive elements of Frog has little to do with the product directly but come from comments from other users. Frog is seems to be consistently spoken of highly by its users. From a personal perspective, I admire to the philosophy of Frog as a product, and the open nature of the company (they have several blogs, twitter, and customer forums etc where they communicate directly with their customers), and this means that I think
18 they are a company and a product that a school could form a very productive relationship with. These opinions are solely my own and reflect the considerations within a particular set of constraints, which may not apply in another school. All of these products have their own relative merits and in different scenarios each may be a sensible and appropriate solution.
19 BIBLIOGRAPHY http://1bestarinet.net/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_technology http://www.frogasia.com/v3/ http://www.microsoft.com/windows/support/endofsupport.mspx http://www.moe.edu.my/btp/ http://www.moe.gov.my/ http://www.mohe.gov.my/educationmsia/ http://www.ytl.com/ http://www.ytlcommunity.com.my/ Norzaidi, M.D., and Intan Salwani, M. (2008). Information Technology (IT) Management Models: An Introduction, University Publication Centre. Turban, Leidner, Mclean, and Wetherbe (2010). Information Technology for Management, 7th Ed., John Wiley.
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